Over the past few years, a number of North American franchises have been in crisis. Take RadioShack for example—a name once synonymous with the latest in electronic goods—who now faces bankruptcy and numerous store closures due to what CBS calls “a series of self-inflicted missteps.” From questionable re-branding strategies (“The Shack”) to its inability to keep up with the changing landscape of consumer electronics, the company experienced more than a few hurdles that proved impossible to surmount.
There are many moving parts involved in keeping a franchise afloat, making you wonder how anyone could endeavor to do it without the help of a robust technology platform. In 1999, Tariq Farid founded Edible Arrangements, using a SaaS platform to help its 1037-location franchise streamline previously laborious business processes. Boasting mobile sales apps, employee training videos and standardized POS systems, the technology driving the successful franchise combines a host of functionalities into one powerful package. What’s surprising is how few other franchises are willing to join the tech revolution. As Farid told Entrepreneur: “Saying that many franchise systems are stuck in the ‘90s is being kind…technology is not in the comfort zone of a lot of franchise leaders. The point of technology is to make life easy so franchisees can focus on growing their business, not running their business.”
Franchises stuck in old habits—or worse yet—on the brink of extinction, have new hope with cloud-based technologies, provided that decision makers are willing to take the leap. Marketing cloud technology in particular offers immense benefits to the franchise model that are worth exploring:
Greater brand consistency
Brand compliance across store locations is one of the keys to a successful franchise. With marketing cloud technology, franchise headquarters can assign business units to its franchisees, allowing them to deliver content that holds relevance to their store’s particular market. Franchisees have a legitimate need to take a more granular approach to marketing in order to engage their customers on a regional level. The various roles and permissions within business units give franchise owners the freedom to produce marketing content, while giving high-level management control over the look and feel of the marketing collateral using “defined templates that maintain the corporate brand,” according to Mindmatrix. Ready-branded templates are especially useful for promotional material like the company newsletter, where franchise owners can input content that reflects the inventory of their particular store.
Franchise organizations with product inventories that vary from store to store can benefit from a marketing cloud platform’s ability to offer dynamic content within email communications. With dynamic content, franchisees can choose the product images that appear within marketing emails based on their particular store’s inventory. Customers who subscribe to email communications at a particular franchise location will then only receive content that reflects the inventory of that store, offering a level of personalization that Mindmatrix argues “can significantly increase marketing effectiveness.
Data for days
The ability to access customer and lead data is a prerequisite for successful engagement campaigns. Marketing cloud technology, particularly when integrated with a CRM, gives franchisees the ability to access rich streams of customer and lead data that can be transformed into communications with laser-sharp personalization.
Armed with the right platform, franchisees can access real-time behavioral and transactional data to help them gain deeper insights into their customer base and make more informed marketing decisions. Advanced platforms boast predictive intelligence, which, using complex algorithms, is able to determine the most relevant content and channel for each individual customer.
Leveraging purchase data enables franchisees to increase the likelihood of repeat transactions by re-marketing similar products and/or services throughout a customer journey. Marketing cloud technology also enables franchise owners to track and measure a subscriber’s level of engagement with every touch point—from email to social—in order to optimize communications and turbo-charge ROI. With this type of insight into their customers and leads, franchisees are fully equipped to segment subscribers onto the most relevant nurture tracks.
According to The Franchise King, “many franchises have disparate solutions operating inside their business that don’t communicate with each other.” He argues that disjointed systems “lead to costly inefficiencies and a loss of critical data analysis.” One of the major assets of a marketing cloud platform is its ability to integrate with a number of different applications—such as Fresh Relevance, which offers real-time cart, browse and form recovery programs; the Salesforce Connector, which connects Salesforce.com to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud; in addition to a number of eCommerce, analytics, social and mobile connectors.
The beauty of cloud-based systems is that they can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Franchise owners looking to keep track of more than one store location can access and compare the metrics of multiple business units, arming them with the necessary insight to increase the performance of less successful locations.
The best marketing cloud platforms offer mobile and social modules that allow franchise owners to manage and measure communications from either channel. Whether it’s the ability to automate relevant mobile push messages based on variables such as user location, demographic, or preferences—or the ability to schedule, measure and optimize social media posts across platforms—marketing cloud technology makes it easier for franchises to start more meaningful conversations with their customers. The rigorous analytics capabilities within these modules offer the insight required to deliver the most personalized customer journeys yet.
New hope for the franchise model
Despite the recent number of closures and bankruptcies across North America, the franchise model isn’t dead. With the proliferation of cloud-based marketing automation technologies, franchise organizations don’t have an excuse for not adopting more efficient business processes. As Jason Daley of Entrepreneur magazine writes, the operational, marketing, and sales efficiencies that marketing cloud technologies deliver “are creating two classes of franchise systems: those that are getting a bump from tech adoption, and those that will soon feel the pain of waiting too long.”